Camp Provides New Opportunities for STEM Education
MIDDLETON, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) hosted a ribbon cutting for the new UT Extension 4-H and Youth Development Center at Lone Oaks Farm on Monday, May 22, 2023.
The event began with a ceremony featuring esteemed representatives from across the University of Tennessee System, including UT System President Randy Boyd, UTIA Senior Vice Chancellor and Senior Vice President Keith Carver, Dean of UT Extension Ashley Stokes, State 4-H Director Justin Crowe, retiring Director of Lone Oaks Farm Ron Blair and Penny Russell, STEM director for the center. Guests were given tours of the new facilities.
The state-of-the-art facility is designed to provide interactive learning opportunities for students through advanced on-site science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, leadership development, and agriculture programs not available in traditional classrooms. It includes world-class laboratories, horticulture systems, gardens, hiking trails, recreational activities and more. Open to K-12 students across the region, the camp will hold its first session only one week after the ribbon cutting.
UT System President Randy Boyd says, “The ability to offer overnight educational programs, teach valuable life skills and daily STEM activities at Lone Oaks in West Tennessee is a tremendous enhancement to the region’s educational opportunities. Knowing the workforce needs in STEM fields are growing across the region, the timing couldn’t be better.”
“The future of STEM in Tennessee is happening at Lone Oaks Farm, and we are thrilled to host our first 4-H campers at this new facility to begin that experience,” adds Ashley Stokes, dean of UT Extension. “Many thanks to those who made it possible, as we can provide the outstanding skills and leadership development students need to be successful by igniting their curiosity for science and for the world around them. Our supporters across the state of Tennessee provided this opportunity to acquire Lone Oaks Farm and we welcomed the charge to build a world-class 4-H and youth development camp and center. We are proud to bring our friends and supporters back together for this ribbon cutting”.
Lone Oaks Farm spans more than 1,200 acres of fields, farmland, woods, trails, waterways, lakes and more. The newly constructed 4-H and Youth Development Center features room for 64 overnight campers in four cabins, with more cabins planned in the future. Beyond the STEM center, the Lone Oaks Farm grounds are home to more than a dozen residences, numerous event spaces and the largest collection of antique American hand tools in the United States. In addition to regularly hosting youth camps, weddings, conferences and company retreats at the many venue locations, the property is also a functioning farm featuring livestock, fruit and vegetable gardens, hay production and other agriculture operations.
Lone Oaks Farm is also internationally renowned for its $3.5-million shooting facility, The Clays, featuring sporting clays, skeet, trap and other shooting activities as well as the Hunter Education Center, which provides recreational and educational shooting and hunting sessions for visitors of all ages.
Through its land-grant mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. utia.tennessee.edu.